GID 92: Letterpress Printing
Studio practice in letterpress printing to create limited-edition prints and books. Introduction to handset type, hand-carved relief plates and photopolymer plates. Emphasis on technical skills with tools and media, visual communication, and aesthetics of print media.

Explore the art & craft of Letterpress Printing using handset metal and wood type and photo polymer plates. Beginners and experienced printers welcome. Linocut and traditional letterpress cuts, 100+ cases of type and the opportunity to print on an 8" x 10" table top and a 10" x 15" floor model platen and a 20" x 36" flatbed cylinder press. In addition to class projects, students are encouraged to explore personal projects. You will take away a basic knowledge of letterpress printing techniques, both new and old and the historical foundation for each. Each student will participate in collaborative and individual projects and complete a class book by the end of the class.

This course is offered by the Print & Book Arts program at Foothill College


Studio 1801
Class meets in Studio 1801 on the Foothill College campus in Los Altos Hills, California
Foothill's main campus


About the Course

Course Description:
Studio practice in letterpress printing to create limited-edition prints and books. Introduction to handset type, hand-carved relief plates and photopolymer plates. Emphasis on technical skills with tools and media, visual communication, and aesthetics of print media.

Course Objectives:
Provide activities, information, resources, support and excitement, that will enable class participants to:
• set and achieve goals for their individual development as artists working in the medium of artists’ books;
• share their information and skills with other participants and, in so doing, develop their skills as workshop leaders and teachers; and
• learn how to present book arts exhibitions and public activities that will generate interest and support for the book arts in the local Bay Area community

Expected Outcomes:
• understand and describe letterpress printing processes and materials.
• mix inks for letterpress printing.
• prepare and curate paper for letterpress printing.
• handset type for letterpress printing.
• prepare hand-carved and photographic relief plates for letterpress printing.
• create letterpress prints using a flatbed cylinder press and platen press.
• produce printed works of artistic merit.
• evaluate the content and composition of printed works.
• understand and help manage the operations of a letterpress printing facility.
• understand and practice the safe handling of equipment and materials.
• understand the history of letterpress printing and the contributions of diverse cultures.

Lecture Topics
• Letterpress printing: Theory and practice
• Printing materials: Ink, paper and solvents
• Press operations: Preparation, printing and cleanup
• Studio operations: Designing a efficient production environment
• Design & layout: Type & image as communication tools
• Metal Typefaces of the 20th Century: design, foundries and their history
• Communication design: Content, context, form & technique
• Graphic arts printing: History and contributors

Studio Demonstrations
• hand-setting wood and metal type
• carving relief plates by hand
• preparing photopolymer plates
• mixing ink
• relief printing on a flatbed cylinder press
• relief printing on a platen press
• press clean-up and maintenance